Winter might be a time when your climate control concerns are all about heating your home, but it should also be one for preparing your air conditioning for the summer ahead. After all, the last thing you want is to wait until summer to discover your A/C could have used some well-needed attention.
Since you're not using your A/C system right now, you have the perfect opportunity to get it ready to tackle the upcoming summer heat. The following offers a few pointers you can use to prepare your unit this winter.
Making a Clean Sweep
Cleanliness plays a big role when it comes to your A/C system. A clean A/C system is one that performs at peak efficiency under sweltering summer conditions. Here are a few things you should do to clean up your A/C system's act:
- Change the A/C air filter – This is perhaps the first and foremost thing you should do when prepping your A/C for summer service. A clogged air filter not only makes your system run less efficiently, but it can also cause long-term damage.
- Remove dirt and debris from the outdoor unit – Clear away any brush or vegetation that's grown near the outdoor condenser cabinet. Afterwards, use a garden hose to rinse dirt and debris away from the condenser coil. This should be done above freezing temperatures to keep the condenser coil from icing over.
- Clean the evaporator coil – Use a soft-bristle brush and mild detergent to remove accumulated dust, dirt or mildew from the evaporator coil within the indoor air handler. Be careful not to damage any of the delicate aluminum fins lining the evaporator coil.
- Drain and clean the condensate drip pan – If there's any condensed moisture remaining in the condensate drip pan below the evaporator, use a wet/dry shop vacuum to suck up the water. You can also use the vacuum to suck up any clogs or standing water in the condensate drain line. Use mild detergent to clean the pan and check it for any cracks or corrosion.
- Don't forget about your ductwork – Years of dust and debris can accumulate in portions of your duct system, so it's a good idea to have a professional clean them out on a regular basis.
Performance is Skin Deep
In addition to cleaning your A/C system, you should also make sure its internal components are up to par:
- Make sure your A/C system is properly charged – Have a professional with the appropriate equipment measure your A/C system's current refrigerant charge. Your HVAC technician can add additional refrigerant if it's needed.
- Inspect the refrigerant lines – In addition to making sure your unit is properly charged, you should also check the refrigerant lines for signs of external damage or wear as well as for leaks. Use foam insulation sleeves to restore areas where the original insulation has worn away.
- Check the blower fan system for signs of wear or damage – Belt-driven blower fans should have their belts and motors inspected for wear and tear.
- Check wiring and relays for wear or damage – Frayed wiring and melted relays can cause system performance issues. Have a professional make the necessary repairs and replacement.
Don't Hesitate to Make a Change
It's not out of the ordinary to discover that your A/C system needs replacement, especially if you've had it for the last decade. Most central A/C systems offer 15 to 20 years of reliable service before mounting maintenance concerns and increased wear makes their continued operation less cost-effective.
If your A/C unit is more than 10 years old, then you may want to consider replacing it with a newer unit. Today's A/C systems are more energy efficient than ever, offering a broad range of technology features that help these systems deliver better cooling comfort while maximizing your energy savings.
For more information and professional assistance or inspection, contact local HVAC companies, such as Wright Total Indoor Comfort.